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Cigar: Rafael Gonzalez 88 regional Asia-Pacifico Cutter: Palio Lighter: DuPont Defi Drink: Caol Ila 16 year refill hogshead ex Bourbon Single barrel and Glenmorangie 11 year first fill ex bourbon Single barrel Location: outdoors, mildly windy. Pre-Cut light: good Britanicas shape, slightly box pressed, one soft spot near the regional band Aroma at cold: Graham cracker and maple syrup. Pre-light draw: very good, slight sweetness, nuttiness. First third: takes to lighting well, toasted tobacco, nuts, dry cocoa powder, salt. Some wood and more dry cocoa salted nuts which lasts very long pallet, quite enjoyable. Pepper through the retro inhale. The burn is doing fairly well, there is a slight run to one side of the cigar which I find is fairly typical with this vitola. This seemed to happen both in the Bolivar Britannica’s UK as well as the Ramon Allones AP. Cocoa continues to be very long pallet, and with a smaller retro inhale some floral notes begin to develop. As for the drink pairings the Caol Ila peat plays very well with the salt in the cigar albeit slightly overpowering, the Glenmorangie does much better with puffs that reveal cocoa and the floral retro inhale. About an inch in the cigar becomes a little muted and jumbled as well as a little harsh making it difficult to discern different flavors. Toasted tobacco is still present but little else. Second third: ash drops right as the second third begins, still a lot of muted tobacco and toasted flavors. General nuttiness and not much else. I try to slow my smoking rate down some in some vegetal green type notes start to develop. Generally, I am not a big fan of these sorts of flavors in a cigar. I much prefer to eat my salad not smoke it. The burn has actually corrected quite well, no touchups needed. The cigar is burning pretty hot, and is pretty soft now at the foot. I think these are underfilled. I will have to smoke a couple more to get a better sense though. As soon as I write this the wind picks up and the cigar does go on a bit of a run to one side. A touch up is needed. Still very muted tobacco flavors. I am pretty disappointed at this point in cigar. When the ash falls you can see that the center cone burning is off center in the cigar, which I believe is affecting flavor. Last third: not good, no change, nothing to write home about. Laid it down with about 2 inches left. Final thoughts: The very best part of the cigar was the opening inch, and the scotch. There were a lot of good flavors of cocoa, nuts, salty woody– ness, and pepper/floral aspects in the retro inhale. Unfortunately, many of these aspects disappeared in the middle and end part of the cigar, I believe secondary to construction issues. While I do believe that the regional program is great for producing unique cigars, which are generally good to very good, there are undoubtedly more construction issues in these cigars then regular production. Further from my own experience I believe that worst constructed cigars in the Cuban portfolio are double perfectos including Salamonas, Tacos, and these Britanicas. I would like to think that if more of these sizes were introduced to the regular production of different marcas that many of these construction issues would become less frequent because rollers would get more experience in the various sizes. These are beautiful sizes which when constructed appropriately add a lot to the cigar smoking experience. I have smoked a couple other of these Rafael Gonzalez 88 and they did not suffer as much from construction issues but none have had what I call superior construction. In general, I think that the idea of this release is very good and that better constructed specimens do have aging potential. With that said paying a premium for this release and having construction issues like this is not acceptable. Other Rafael Gonzalez 88: 82-83 This Rafael Gonzalez 88: 70